Review: BRCvr in AltspaceVR Is an Impressive Feat

Yesterday evening, my friend Andrew (the former producer of my show, the Metaverse Newscast, which is currently on indefinite hiatus) invited me to join him as we explored the many different virtual worlds forming a part of the BRCvr experience, a virtual recreation of the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. BRCvr is one of ten official Burning Man virtual spaces in their Multiverse, replacing the real-world event which was candelled due to the pandemic.

Unlike some of the Burning Man Multiverse platforms which have struggled to launch on time and cost money to attend (up to US$150!), BRCvr opened on schedule and is free! Andrew and I were very impressed by what we saw last night, so this morning I decided to pay a return visit.

On my first visit last night to the sprawling virtual Black Rock City, it was daytime. You really do get a sense of the size of BRC! I was informed that this is a 1:1 recreation of Black Rock City (which I assume means that everything is sized accurately according to your avatar size).

But when I returned today, it was near sunset, with the artwork casting long shadows across the flat desert:

The landscape is dotted with teleporters, both to take you from one place to another within Black Rock City, and also to take you to other virtual worlds (there are apparently up to 120 of them linked to their main hub world).

Much of the art on display has a separate portal to allow you to see the artwork in higher detail than it appears in the main world, such as this statue (you can easily get back to Black Rock City from the menu of places in AltspaceVR)

Take the portal into the Burning Man itself, in the centre of Black Rock City, and you can then take teleporters to visit the Burning Man statues of previous years! (Try doing that in real life!)

The tireless Kent Bye just published a Voices of VR podcast interview with Greg Edwards, the lead developer of BRCvr, which you can listen to here.

Kent Bye’s map of BRCvr (source)

Daniel Terdiman, in an article he wrote for Fast Company, reported on his experience in BRCvr:

BRCvr’s main entry point is a spot out in the open, just a few dozen virtual meters away from what any Burning Man veteran instantly recognizes as the Center Camp Café, the beating-heart hub of Black Rock City. A good start: Things looked right. They sounded right, too. I heard the sound of a blast from a fire cannon. I heard laughter. And I heard people nearby having random conversations.

I turned to my left, and there, just a few meters away, was the Duck, a converted golf cart some friends of mine converted to look like a big rubber duck. I have spent an uncountable number of hours riding around on it over the years. It was pure serendipity that it was just about the first thing I saw—but as any Burner knows, that’s the type of serendipity that happens all the time in BRC. This was a very good sign. And it was just the beginning.

He was impressed by the experience, and I was too. Andrew tells me that they are planning to keep BRCvr up for the rest of this year, but I would encourage you to visit before the official closing! Set aside an hour or two; you’ll need it to explore all the linked worlds!

This Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. Pacific time, there will be a live performance by Diplo in the PlayAlchemist Pyramid. You can RSVP here.

P.S. I forgot to mention that AltspaceVR has relaunched a MacOS client this week, just in time for Mac desktop users who want to attend the festival. More information is available in this tweet by the BRCvr organizers.


With a shout out and a thank you to Andrew William.

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